Drought Praise: Hot Pink and Purple Autumn Bloomers

Late summer is a good time to plant at the coolest times of day. Settling in Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla) before Indian summer will give their roots a chance for strong growth so they can withstand winter's chill and leaf out again next spring. These drought-resistant species are closely related and hybridize freely when they meet. They also cross with other sages they encounter. FBTS details seven pink and purple varieties that bloom off and on spring to fall.

Flowers by the Sea

How To Succeed At Growing An Organic Garden

Gardening can be a very rewarding and worthwhile activity. Some people see gardening as a hobby, a way to derive pleasure in their spare time. Others may view it from a more utilitarian perspective, as in a way to grow their own food without being dependent upon grocery stores. Regardless of the reason for gardening, many great tips can be found in this article for both beginner gardeners as well as seasoned gardeners.

A trick to help measure in the garden is to take one of the long handled garden tools like a shovel and mark on its handle using a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, mark out the feet and inches on its handle and when specific distance is required in planing, have a handy measuring device is close at hand.

An easy way to transport tools to and from the garden is to use an old golf bag. Many golf bags have a stand built into them so it makes grabbing and organizing the tools a breeze. Use the pockets in the sides of the bag to store all kinds of assorted gardening tools, seeds, and gloves, or just use them to store a refreshing beverage.

To maximize the benefits of compost, put it in your garden about two weeks before you plant. Compost actually needs time to integrate with soil and once you combine the two they need time to stabilize. Plan to gather enough compost to fertilize your garden a couple of weeks ahead of planting to produce healthier and stronger plants.

To store your garden-fresh onions for use throughout the winter and avoid having them rot or mold, store them in pantyhose! Yes, pantyhose! Simply place the onions into the legs of pantyhose, and, to avoid letting them touch one another (which is what helps create mold and rot), place a twist tie between each onion and the next. To store, hang the pantyhose by the gusset in a cool dry place and cut off or pop a hole in the pantyhose to grab an onion when you need it.

For basic vegetable or flower gardening it is often not necessary to buy the most expensive gardening tools and accessories. Visiting discount stores will often allow you to find basic tools at a low price. You should also be on the lookout each spring for most local supermarkets to set up an aisle or display with gardening tools you can get for a good price,too.

To give your plant great nutrition without spending a lot of money, use leaves! Leaves are one of the best plant foods available. Try covering any exposed soil in your garden with small, shredded leaves. This will enrich the soil and will allow it to provide better nutrition to your plants.

Treat yourself while you garden with a little petroleum jelly. Before donning your gardening gloves, apply a bit of petroleum jelly or your favorite moisturizing cream to your hands. The gloves protect from the dirt, while your hand movement works the cream into your skin. You will finish your gardening with silky soft hands!

If you have clay soil, the most important thing to do is work it over and amend it with some type of compost. Plants tend to do well this type of soil once they are established, as they can sink their roots deep enough into an area that never dries out. Conversely, plants in lighter soil need watering constantly. Remember to place an organic mulch on the surface, which will stop the surface from baking in the summer.

One of the best ways to be successful at organic gardening is to plan early. The best laid out plans for an organic garden, always make for the most successful garden. Plan what you will plant early on and be sure to have back-up vegetables ready to plant when short-lived plants, like lettuce and spinach, are done for the year.

If you have a compost pile, but have very few leaves to add to it this fall, try incorporating straw or hay into your compost pile. This is a great way to add carbon which is very beneficial to the growth and health of plants. The straw and hay may contain seeds, so it is best to use an organic weed spray on your compost pile to get rid of the unwanted weeds.

When beginning your own organic garden, you should always make sure you moisten your mix that is in the containers before you sow the seeds. If your mix is not moist, it will dry out. This could cause your plant to die before it is given a chance to grow.

As previously stated, no matter what your motivation may be for engaging in gardening, you can never know too much. By applying some or all of the tips mentioned in this article, new gardeners can quickly increase their knowledge. Likewise, experienced gardeners can always pick up some new tips and add to their expertise.

Everything You May Have Wondered About Gardening

Learn some tips that can help you grow better organic plants for your family. You can figure out everything you need to know so that you don’t buy unnecessary equipment. Additionally, you will learn how to save your plants and ensure that they do not die from neglect or other things. It’s not so scary once you know the basics.

Divide up your perennials while they still look healthy. It’s best to divide a perennial at the end of the growing season during which it hits its peak. As the plant starts to overgrow, the center of the plant will start to have dying stalks and weaker flowers. Allowing perennials to grow too long may also lead to them overtaking neighboring plants.

If you do not want to expose your family to harmful pesticides in your garden, consider using organic pesticides. Organic pesticides do not have the harmful chemicals commonly found in ordinary pesticides. Fragrant herbs like rosemary, basil, and mint are often disliked by pests, and they are good choices to plant around your garden to ward off pests.

Don’t assume that insects are to blame for all plants ailments. There are many things that can affect the health of a plant. The PH of the water you are using, the location of the plant (under shade vs direct sun), the amount of soil in the pot and several other reasons can be a determining factor.

Consider using organic fertilizers in your garden. These are safer than chemical fertilizers, which can build up salts in the ground over time. The salts restrict the ability of the plants to get water and nutrients from the soil. They can also kill helpful earthworms and microorganisms which eat thatch.

Make sure your pot is the right size for your plant. If the pot is too small, the plant’s roots may not have enough room to grow. The roots will become “root bound”, stop growing, and begin to suffocate. The size of the root system can determine the size of your plant and yield.

It is important that you not forget to water your garden on a regular basis, especially when it is hot. If your plants do not get enough water, roots stay near the surface which can kill your plants or cause them to take even longer to grow. About an inch of water a week is sufficient.

To treat damping-off fungus, use chamomile tea. Brew a batch of chamomile tea, let it cool and pour a generous amount around the base of the seedlings. Use a spray bottle for the stems and foliage of the plant and you will keep damping-off fungus from destroying your garden.

Start with a small manageable garden if you are new to gardening. If you are inexperienced, gardening can be stressful and frustrating. By starting with a smaller size, you keep your experiences positive and your plants under control. Gardens do require work and upkeep on a regular basis so keep that in mind.

Go green and try to conserve as much water as possible in your garden. One way to do this is to take the water from steaming or boiling vegetables and water your plants with it. The enriched water also has the benefit of acting as a fertilizer and will give your plants a boost.

Do not give your garden too much fertilizer. Providing fertilizer to your plants allows them to better make food from sunlight. Too much fertilizer, however, can cause your plant to grow too fast, which prevents it from fruiting or flowering. The excess chemicals left in your soil can wash away and pollute the local ground water.

Controlling pests can be quite challenging when trying to grow a healthy, hardy vegetable garden. Avoid using a bunch of harsh chemical pesticides in your garden. Don’t forget you intend on eating these vegetables. One way to control gardening pests is to be vigilant. In many cases, you can simply remove the pests from your plants by picking them off.

Save your eggshells to use as a soil additive. Crushed eggshells add much needed calcium to your garden, and working the shells in also helps keep the soil aerated. A barrier made of crushed eggshells and placed in a ring around your plants can also protect them from snails and slugs. Their delicate bodies are cut and scratched by the jagged eggshells, making them avoid those sections of the garden.

Hang shiny silver objects throughout your garden. These can act as natural pest deterrents; no need for chemicals. The reflections can disorient flying pests such as aphids that require the sun to direct their flight, and may frighten off larger pests such as birds, and even rabbits or deer.

As you can see, growing your own organic garden is better for you and your family, and it isn’t as difficult as it may appear. It just requires research, regular maintenance outdoors, and some patience. The work will pay off once you see your plants grow.

Shopper’s Diary: Buriki No Zyoro in Tokyo

At gardening shop Buriki no Zyoro (the name translates as Tin Watering Can) in Tokyo’s leafy Jiyugaoka neighborhood, flats of flowers and plants spill out onto the sidewalk:

Photography via Buriki no Zyoro except where noted.

Buriki No Zyoro florist garden shop Tokyo Japan ; Gardenista

Above: Photograph via Studio La Momo.

The shop has two floors of eclectic inventory: from flowers to potted succulents, planters, tools, seeds, and vintage garden accessories the owners found in the South of France.

Buriki No Zyoro Tokyo Japan garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: Photograph via Studio La Momo.

A vintage iron garden bench and potted plants are among the shop’s offerings.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: A potted ficus benghalensis has been trained to be a small indoor tree.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: A tiny Sophora tree kokedama sits on a tabletop.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop kokedama ; Gardenista

Above: A baby staghorn fern (Platycerium alcicorne) kokedama sits nearby. 

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: Potted succulents are for sale.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: A potted euphorbia is among the shop’s collection of succulents.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: Floral arrangement workshops for children are held seasonally at the shop.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: Cuttings of succulents can be easily rooted by placing them on the surface of soil.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: Plants, pots, and vintage garden accessories spill out into a courtyard adjacent to the shop.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: Lavender, mint, and thyme are among the herbs for sale.

Buriki no Zyoro Tokyo garden shop ; Gardenista

Above: The shop’s facade and sign are almost entirely obscured by exuberant greenery.

For more of our favorite garden shops in Japan, see:

Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

More Stories from Gardenista


Made for Shade: Japanese Woodland Salvias

Sturdy, shade-loving Japanese Salvias are lovely additions to woodland gardens with their lush, large-leafed foliage and delicate-looking flowers in colors including pinks, purples and yellows. They're ideal for bordering shady paths where they invite visitors to pause for close-up views. Flowers by the Sea suggests eight Japanese species for woodland gardens and organizes them according to their cold hardiness.
Flowers by the Sea

DIY Floral Arrangement: Smoke Bush and Queen Anne’s Lace

Smoke bush embraces the dark and saturated colors that autumn brings.  

For an early autumn arrangement, I made a moody, purple moment with smoke bush, figs, and Queen Anne’s Lace. For a list of materials and step-by-step instructions, see below:

Photography by Sophia Moreno-Bunge for Gardenista.

Gardenista | Smoke Bush Arrangement

Above: Smoke bush leaf colors range from purple to maroon to green (though the green often has notes of maroon). In late spring, the tips of the branches start to bloom textured puffs that look like smoke. Hence the name.


  • Queen Anne’s Lace, one bunch
  • Figs on the branch
  • Smoke bush branches
  • Clippers
  • Tapered vase

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement By Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: I love the back of the smoke bush leaf; it almost has an opalescent quality.

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement By Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: A dark and moody Queen Anne’s Lace.

Because I never want summer to end, ever, I included another of my favorites, Queen Anne’s Lace, which makes me think of high summer: road trips, beach days, and lounging in the park. You can find these beauties growing everywhere—at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, or in a street crack in Brooklyn.

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement By Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: I love the shape of these; they’re wild and have that find-them-on-the-side-of-the-road beauty, but if you look closely, they’re so geometric and orderly (like all plants, really).

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement by Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: Base of figs on the branch.

First, I filled a vase with water and made a base using the fig branches. I tried to use the natural shape of the branches, and created a structure that reminds me of a fan. I cut each stem at a diagonal and made sure each one sat on the bottom of the vase.

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement by Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: The branches are heavy, so make sure to space them evenly on either side of the vase to prevent it from tipping.

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement by Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: The smoke bush colors, separated.

Next, I concentrated the green smoke bush on one side and the darker maroon on the other. Smoke bush can be finicky, so I cut the stems at a diagonal, and then cut and split the tip in two (to give it more surface to take in water). 

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement by Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: I kept the smoke bush a bit lower than the fig to create air and so that the figs still would be visible. I like to see negative space between the different stems and branches.

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement by Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: As a finishing touch, I added a cluster of the Queen Anne’s Lace to the left side and let it trail down the arrangement to the right side.

Gardenista | Smokebush Arrangement by Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Above: Done! Less is more, here.

If you’re as enamored of smoke bush as we are, see another of our favorite ways to use it indoors at Unexpected Autumnal Arrangements.

Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

More Stories from Gardenista


Short on Floral Inspiration? Start with the Vessel, Says David Stark

If you ever find yourself lacking in inspiration for a great floral arrangement, take this tip from event designer David Stark: start with the vessel. It’s a simple trick, and a good investment—after all, the vases will stay while the flowers come and go.

The team at David Stark Design created five fall arrangements just for us—all with flowers available now, and all chosen for the beautiful handmade vessels in which they sit. Most of these flowers can be had on the cheap, and all the arrangements are simple enough to recreate at home. So find a favorite vessel—mug, dish, or vase—and get to work:

Photography by David Stark Design for Gardenista. 

Fall Flower Arrangement by David Stark for Gardenista

Above: The team sourced New Jersey-grown dahlias from the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn—”Dahlias are the peonies of autumn,” says David—and paired them with black-and-white Splatter Mugs by LA artist Peter Shire. According to David, the key to this arrangement is having the courage to pair a bold color with an equally bold graphic pattern—here, “assertively decorative” magenta dahlias with subtly colored, but strongly graphic vessels. “The flowers arrange themselves!” he says. For sourcing information, visit Echo Park Pottery or Peter Shire Studio.

Fall Flower Arrangement by David Stark for Gardenista

Above: Armed with this bud vase from Gardenista favorite Cécile Daladier, David assures us even a complete beginner can create floral arrangements akin to sculpture. “The dialogue here with this charming vase is not only with the blooms, but also with the gesture and structure of the stems,” he says. 

David’s team arranged drumstick alliums and passion vine in the three-holed shallow vase, which forces skinny-stemmed flowers like alliums to stand on their own. However, notes David’s team, because the dish is so shallow it’s important to keep the water topped up or the flowers will wilt. When arranging several of these vases in a group, “variation is key.” For soucing information, visit Cécile Daladier.

Fall Flower Arrangement by David Stark for Gardenista

Above: Here, the team paired ‘PowWow White’ echinacea with ceramic flower discs of David’s own design. Made in collaboration with Detroit ceramicist Victoria Shaheen for Culture Lab Detroit, the hand-made discs will be available starting October 30 at design shop Nora (in Detroit and online). Stay tuned for more on a David Stark-designed pop-up shop at Nora to be held October 30-November 15.

Fall Flower Arrangement by David Stark for Gardenista

Above: David Stark’s Ceramic Flower Rests come in six sizes, each with different hole patterns and each paired with a cylindrical glass vase. Check Nora for availability beginning October 30.

Fall Flower Arrangement by David Stark for Gardenista

Above: These two designs are all about “architectural juxtaposition,” says David—of shape, form, color, and texture—anchored by sculptural vessels from Brooklyn artist Cody Hoyt. The team arranged scabiosa, French anemones, and optic grass in the shorter vase, and a burst of white sedum blossoms in the tall one. David’s tip: “Because these piece stand a-kilter, have fun with that: cluster various heights of vessels and blooms to create an architectural arrangement.” For more on Hoyt’s high art vessels, visit Patrick Parrish

Fall Flower Arrangement by David Stark for Gardenista

Above: This terra cotta urn by potter Frances Palmer calls out for a full fall arrangement—”lush seasonal abundance,” in David’s words. The team filled it with locally harvested dahlias, basil blossoms, amaranthus, sunflowers, eucalyptus, echinacea, and smartweed. Note: The urn has a drainage hole for planted arrangements, so cut flowers require a watertight liner tucked inside. The No. Five Terra Cotta Two Handle Urn is $ 350 at Frances Palmer Pottery. 

For more from David, see: 

More Stories from Gardenista


DIY Decor: Justine’s Spooky-Elegant Halloween Table Setting

Good Halloween decor should always evoke a ghost story. Mine captures a ladies’ luncheon gone on waaaay too long. 

Every October my husband and children run around bedecking the exterior of our house with ghouls and pumpkins. But the interior is my domain. I like to honor All Hallows’ Eve with a more subtle, grown-up approach—something that is only vaguely sinister or decayed.

Last year I paid homage to Miss Havisham in my hall. (See Justine’s Haunted Hall.) This year I wanted to serve a spectral supper in the dining room. Using little more than floating black leaves and bone-white porcelain, I’ve conjured a Halloween setting that is, I like to think, equally haunting and beautiful. Here’s how I did it.

Photography by Justine Hand.

Above: The inspiration for my Halloween table came from two sources: an old issue of Kinfolk that featured an autumnal setting with colorful leaves floating over a table, and a Martha Stewart DIY, in which she preserved fall leaves in wax. Step one: Gather leaves. While my daughter, Solvi, searched for sunset yellows and oranges, I hunted for noirish reds and browns, the more desiccated and moth-eaten, the better.


Above: All you need for this project is:

  • Approximately 35 leaves in dark colors. I allowed my leaves to dry overnight so the edges would curl.
  • 1/3 pound wax. I used beeswax from Ruhl Bee Supply; $ 8.50 for 1 pound.
  • Black candle dye. I used Liquid Eco-friendly Candle Dye, also from Ruhl Bee Supply; $ 7.35.
  • A double boiler.
  • Any fine thread.


Above: Melt wax in a double boiler over medium heat. After the wax is entirely melted, add several drops of coloring. Stir and do a test dip with the leaves. Add more color until the leaves reach the desired shade. You also can re-dip the leaves for a richer hue.

Above: Reduce the temperature of the wax to low. Holding the stem, quickly dip each leaf in the wax, letting the excess drip back into the pot. Place leaves on parchment paper to dry. 

Above: Now much more noir, my wax-dipped leaves will also last for a long time.

You may be wondering, Why I didn’t just paint the leaves? You could, but I wanted the depth of the translucent wax. Also, for the paint to adhere, you’d have to use something pretty heavy-duty, like household paint. That seemed to require at least as much effort as dipping leaves in wax. (Plus, I plan to use the excess wax and dye to make black candles. Stay tuned.)

Above: If necessary, use a hammer and nail to poke holes in the leaves. Or simply tie a thread to the stems. Be sure to give yourself extra string, so you can adjust the height of your hanging leaves.

Above: Solvi and I also found some wonderfully twisted locust pods.

Above: Suspend your leaves at staggered lengths. I used matte Scotch tape to affix them to the ceiling.

Above: After the leaves are hung, it’s time to consider your tablescape. I wanted a stark contrast to the black leaves, so I employed alabaster porcelain from White Forest Pottery, dried straw flowers, pale gourds, and several layers of creamy linens to create a ghostlike shroud.

Above: Voila! My finished table.

Above: For a centerpiece I gathered more black leaves as a backdrop for two white gourds set on an antique pedestal.

Above: I love the lacy effect of the tattered leaves. Here also you can see that I added one red leaf, like a pinprick on my tableau.

Above: Elderberry Cordial from Caledonia Spirits makes a perfect Halloween aperitif for adults. And note, you don’t need to polish the silver.

Above: More haphazardly placed linens add an air of neglect to the side bar.

Above: A wider view of the dining room.

Above: Solvi walked through the completed space this morning. “Mom, Is that room supposed to be creepy?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “Did I do a good job?” “Yeah,” she replied with a shiver.

Get fully spooky:

Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

More Stories from Gardenista